and then there were five
Something is rotten in the state of Georgia.
In the past week alone, two of our ducks have vanished without a trace. First one, then the next day, another. If both were male, I might suspect my husband of participating in a midnight culling of the flock. But as it turns out, we're missing one of the girls, too.
Then last night we heard the screeching of a chicken in distress. This morning a pile of feathers near the coop and four missing hens alerted us of a serious problem.
A poacher on the farm!
My creative mind immediately went to work imagining who could be attacking my precious poultry. After quickly ruling out my husband, since the missing birds presented a loss rather than a gain for us, I began lining up the possible suspects in my head.
The most logical answer was a coyote. They're bold, resourceful, and sneaky. The fact that I hadn't seen one of the ragged beasts running around the neighborhood didn't entice me to rule them out, not at all. Nor did it rule out the likelihood of a bear. Bears like chicken (at least, Yogi does) and we live in the mountains, so they're a distinct possibility. Someone mentioned hibernation, but I can't let that steer me away from the probability of a bear in our midst. Especially since I've discovered they don't get much more sleep than I do, and like coyotes, are prone to resorting to theft.
When I still didn't have a solid lead, I looked to the skies for an answer. An aerial attack was definitely something to consider. Owls, hawks, maybe a really big flying squirrel. But with little more than the pile of feathers and a growing list of victims to go by, I found myself at a bit of a loss.
Then a crazy thought occurred to me. A thought so wild, so out there, I just couldn't let it go.
A garden gnome.
You've seen them...the creepy little elfish creatures with beards and pointed hats. As if that's supposed to lull us into thinking they're good and kind. Gnomes are not shrunken Santas. They do not spread joy, merrily chuckling, Ho Ho Ho, while passing out gifts to good little girls and boys. No. They're conniving, scary, and evil. And some of them carry knives!
I would sooner have a sculpture of a velociraptor chewing off Bono's head (yes, the guy from U2) in my yard than a garden gnome (and to the guy who challenged me to work that into a blog post, pay up!) Unfortunately for me, the neighbors don't agree. They have several. And apparently, they aren't keeping good track of them, either.
I guess the only thing I can do now, is set a trap. But how does one trap an errant gnome? Can they be lured with candy or German folk songs? It's time for me to do some research. In the mean time, I guess we'd better put the chickens in the coop at night. And it might not be a bad idea to keep the cats inside too. I wouldn't put it past a gnome to snatch a cat right out from under our noses. Drunken gnomes are well-known for chasing pussy.
Until the next time...I'll be offering a reward for the capture of the guilty gnome.